Last night I attended the annual Fashion’s Night Out (FNO) event in New York City; having now observed the hoopla from swanky 5th Avenue to the very hipster Lower East Site of Manhattan, I’m beginning to feel like a veteran fashioinista. Fashion’s Night Out was conceptualized by Anna Wintour of Vogue fame (infamy?), and the underlying mission of this multi-city coordinated event is to jump start retail activity by attracting consumers into stores just before the holiday shopping season launches.
Lackluster sales effects resulting from Fashion’s Night Out have been widely discussed, with analysis of previous years’ sales data indicating more bark than bite when it comes to generating transactions. The Daily Beast estimates that costs for hosting an event during FNO begin at $20k, and that is for a “basic” event. You can imagine how those costs skyrocket for more elaborate events. So is it worth it for retailers? Research cited by the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor suggests that friends, magazines, relatives, celebrities and colleagues, in that order, are the influencers that prompt women to shop. Thus, FNO is hoping to attract women along with all of their magically influential friends for a night of shopping and credit card swiping.
The effects of FNO can be examined beyond straight financial terms. FNO is intended to catalyze consumer connections with brands, particularly aspirational ones consumers might not otherwise encounter (case in point: perusing the Vera Wang showroom simply because the master herself is making the rounds). I have personally seen some amazing integrated marketing executions in conjunction with FNO, but there are some downsides to participation in this event. For ultra-affluent retailers, the problem is that mass-market consumers will likely not return to outposts that reside beyond their financial means, regardless of how many models are passing teeny-tiny gourmet cupcakes to the beat of a slickly spinning DJ. And for brands that are more accessible to the masses–such as Sephora and Guess–the event has a knack for jam-packing brand enthusiasts into the stores, resulting in aisles full of fashionistas without a drop of Moet to drink. Though well-intended, a lackluster in-store experience can dilute the intended quality of the event, negate a positive halo effect on the brand, and potentially harm overall consumer perception of the brand.
Of course, the effectiveness of FNO as a marketing tool varies from brand to brand. As with any marketing investment, a careful ROI analysis including both quantitative and qualitative brand effects should drive the decision to participate.Share